Can You Hear Me Now? HBO And Persuading Consumers

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Persuading consumers is all about communication.  How then, does a media brand, who falls under the industry of “communications” maximize this skill?  The answer falls in mastering the process.  When communicating, there are five components to consider – sender, receiver, medium, message and feedback.  Just like any brand HBO has many subsets that could be trying to reach different audiences in different ways for different reasons.  But for the sake of understanding lets assume that the sender is the traditional HBO premium channel, the receiver is a current HBO subscriber and viewer, the medium is a video through the television, the message is watch our next episode of True Blood, and the feedback through increased buzz online about the episode is that, yes, the message was understood as intended.

Now, communication can also be broken down into the categories of impersonal and interpersonal communication.  Using the example above, the commercial for True Blood is an example of formal communication because it came from a formal company like HBO.  An example where this would be informal communication is if your best friend told you that the new True Blood episode was going to be on soon and that you two should get together to watch it.

An important element to the use of impersonal communication is the selection of media – or channel for transmitting the communication.  As HBO is a media company, this choice may seem easy.  But it is worth remembering from our previous discussions that HBO is very nontraditional in is business model and approach to advertising.  So although there may be some use of traditional media, such as commercials on TV and articles in magazines about HBO content.  HBO also takes advantage of new media – which includes elements like online channels, social networks, and mobile access to online content.

As a media company, HBO also has to deal with two new factors of the advertising world.  This is the ability for users of traditional media to time shift programming which allows them to skip certain commercials by recording the show and watching it at a later time, and the correct use of narrowcasting, which is are the methods that allow marketers online to create messages that are more addressable, customized, interactive, and response-measurable.

So how is HBO dealing with these two factors – the first is simple.  HBO has no commercials on its premium stations.  All of its programming is supported through subscriptions and the only advertisements that are shown are those for other HBO programming.  Also, HBO makes the HBO Go platform available to all its customers, making the need to record a show unnecessary as it will still be immediately available on any device.  Lastly, HBO has made use of narrowcasting by developing a system that keeps track of what each HBO Go subscriber is watching, and supporting its own fans online with special events for social media – such as this current event where individuals use twitter to receive predictions of the future from the three eyed raven from Game of Thrones –

In the end, HBO as a media company has to take communication with consumers seriously.  It is more responsible then most for understanding how media works and how to best take advantage of current cultures to get your messages out there.  Because, if a new media company can’t get it right, then who can?